The late message of the president on the subject of emancipation in the District of Columbia, cannot be without effect upon the slave holding communities of the border states. We have watched with much interest for the responses to the president’s policy, and particularly for the effect the deed of freedom for the District. There were many who honestly doubted whether the time had come for these movements, - whether they would not tend to retard the restoration of peace and union. So far nothing appears to indicate that they were premature. On the contrary there are indications that they will form the basis of a new party that will spring up in all the border states, having for its end and aim the emancipation of the slaves in those states, and to [consequent] emancipation of those states from slavery. A letter in the New York Evening Post from Louisville represents that since the emancipation action in Washington a considerable number of presses in the border states have taken on a new tone, and are now speaking for the institution of slavery as “transient,” and expressing a desire to be ride of the burden. In Franklin county Mo., one of the hotbeds of slavery, a public meeting has recently been held which passed resolutions asking for the gradual extinction of slavery. Ex Gov. Stewart of Missouri has publicly committed himself to the emancipation policy. In Maryland, a party is rapidly springing up which sustains the policy of the president, and demands either the gradual extinction of slavery or the immediate purchase of the negroes. In Kentucky the loyal masses admit that the political power of slavery has passed away. Men are talking about the matter freely. In Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland, the slaveholders themselves are talking freely on the subject. A slaveholder in Prince George county, Md., who owns forty slaves, expresses himself in favor of the universal abolition of slavery throughout the country, since the president signed the district emancipation act. He says the measure is a death blow to slavery in all the slave states –
There can be little doubt that we are entering upon a new era in slavery agitation. It seems evident, judging by the signs of the times that the whole iniquity has calumniated, and that the history of the next twenty years will embrace the decline and extinction of slavery in this country. It is possible that it will die in this war – die in blood and flame and awful retribution, but it looks less like it than a year ago. It seems more probable that slavery having ceased as a political power, will seek a safe extinguishment in some form of compensated emancipation. The question will occupy northern mind less and southern mind more. There will be a southern agitation, and one of the unprecedented bitterness. Whatever of anti-slavery sentiment may exist will undoubtedly seek to ally itself with political power in the North. The scepter of power once departed from the accursed institution it can never be repossessed.
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 3, 1862, p. 4